How to Find a Truly Quiet Hotel Room

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Is there such a thing as a quiet hotel room anymore?

At a time when hotels are turning their lobbies into bars and game rooms to court millennials, it seems as if sleeping is the last reason to check in.

And it’s not as if hotels didn’t already provide nighttime soundtracks: the slamming of hallway doors, the thump of music in the ballroom, the din of children or a television in the next room.

“It’s one of the most reported problems,” said Rick Garlick, head of the travel and hospitality practice at J. D. Power, the market research company. Noise is also one of the most daunting challenges.

A hotel that’s too quiet or too empty is a turnoff, Mr. Garlick said. And while it may end up receiving high guest satisfaction scores, he said it was likely to lose out on revenue. Rather than risk such prospects, many brands are choosing to appeal to travelers and locals who want high-energy scenes like those at the W hotels in New York where, as Mr. Garlick put it, “You don’t go there to sleep.”

And so the quest for a silent night has proved elusive.

Some companies are trying to change that. This year, Knowledge Center Sound Insulation, a network of acoustics and sound insulation specialists based in the Netherlands, began bestowing a “Quiet Room” label to hotels to alert travelers that one or more rooms will meet certain standards.

And chains like Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, are rolling out new padded headboards to help reduce noise while also continuing to offer separate “quiet zones” in their hotels for travelers who want similarly muted neighbors.

To find a quiet hotel room travelers generally have to rely on word of mouth or search reviews on sites such as and TripAdvisor. (Hint: Do a Google search for “quiet hotel room in London,” or whatever your desired destination, and TripAdvisor reviews for the 30 best quiet hotels in that city will appear.)

Yet that method is hardly a guarantee of peace. It comes down to luck of the draw: who has the room next to you, for instance, or whether you happen to be assigned a room by an elevator bank.

By now most travelers know to ask for a room far from the elevators, on a high floor and away from bustling streets. And they know to steer clear of what Mr. Garlick referred to as large urban hotels and convention hotels because they’re typically full and noisy. What’s left to try?

Knowledge Center Sound Insulation is attempting to make things more transparent by testing hotel rooms and offering its own sound insulation services to those that are not up to snuff. They don’t promise absolute silence, but rather, classify rooms into one of three silence tiers — Category III (in which the maximum allowed sound level is 54 decibels, or the approximate volume of a refrigerator hum); Category II (up to 48 decibels); and Category I (up to 43 decibels) — based on measurements of different types of sound in and around the room.
In March, Lucas Keizer, the chief executive of Knowledge Center Sound Insulation, announced that the Doubletree Hilton in Amsterdam had acquired a Quiet Room label, followed by the Hilton Paris Orly Airport, the first French hotel to get the certificate.

Apollo Hotels and Resorts and Golden Tulip hotels also carry Quiet Room labels. And Mr. Keizer wrote in an email that he is also speaking with the Accor hotel brand and Van der Valk Hotels & Restaurants, which has the bulk of its hotels in the Netherlands and Germany.

Hotels that qualify can use a Quiet Room logo in their advertising and promotions, post a “Quiet Rooms Available” sign at their entrance, and display a Quiet Room certificate at the reception desk.


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Not all hotels are inspected in person. Some choose to submit documentation of their own soundproofing measures (information about the architectural construction of the rooms, including blueprints and photos) and be certified at the Category III Quiet Room tier.

“Soundproofing could potentially get you the best of both worlds,” said Mr. Garlick, because it doesn’t force a hotel to choose between being a library or a disco. It allows for bustling public spaces while also allowing guests to retreat to the relative quiet of their rooms. Many hotel brands, such as the Four Seasons, have their own soundproofing methods, offering white noise machines or soundproof windows and insulated walls.

But it seems the most foolproof thing to do is to cluster guests who want quiet rooms in the same area of the hotel. And for that one can turn to any number of Crowne Plaza Hotels in places as varied as Los Angeles, Toronto and Helsinki, where over the last two years the brand has introduced designated quiet zone floors, part of its Sleep Advantage program.

The program includes an aromatherapy kit, plush linens, and a special quiet zone of the hotel where there are no housekeeping or engineering activities Sundays through Thursdays from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. unless requested by a guest. Wake-up calls are guaranteed, meaning that if you’re not awakened within five minutes of your requested time, your hotel stay is free.

Sleep Advantage, which varies by country, is available at Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts in North America, Mexico, Latin America and Europe, and in some places in the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

In October, Crowne Plaza began introducing beds with padded curved headboards that in consumer tests showed a 30 percent improvement in noise reduction, according to a spokeswoman for the brand.


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But soundproofing isn’t faultless. And if all else fails, there are some effective white noise gadgets on the market.

I like Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow Speakers with volume control, thin stereo speakers that you place under your pillow to envelop your head with music or white noise from your digital device (no batteries or power required; from about $22 online), though when it comes to blocking noise for me, nothing can beat the Tranquil Moments Bedside Speaker & Sleep Sounds device from Brookstone (you can use it as a wireless Bluetooth speaker by day; $99.99). At the size of a coffee mug it’s a bit weighty to carry on the road. But it’s got a dozen sound programs (including “ocean surf” and “white rain”) and refined volume control that you can bump up bit by bit until you’ve masked the chatter of hotel room neighbors, voices in the hallway and, as I can attest, outrageously loud snoring from an adjacent room.


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